Monday, August 31, 2009

Taco Night

We have Taco Night about once a month.  It is a bit of work, but so good it's worth it.

First, you need beans.  Frijoles, as they are known here on the Border.  It's very, very important to start with good product, and it's well known around here that the absolute best pinto beans are from Dove Creek, Colorado.  We look for sacks of beans that look like this.

Then you wash your beans. Best done in a colander under flowing water.  Swirl them around a while under the water and watch the dirt come out.  Very satisfying.

Then put them in a pot with a nice smoked ham hock.   In a pinch you can use bacon, or nothing at all.  I always add a clove of garlic. This part of the country doesn't subscribe to a lot of doctoring of the beans.  But no salt yet!!  Wait until they are cooked.

Cover the beans with water and cook slowly on the stove or in the pressure cooker, my favorite way.  If you use a pressure cooker,  cover the beans as much as you can but not more than 2/3 full.  If you do it in a regular pot, you'd better start early in the day.

If you use a pressure cooker, cover them up and let 'er rip.  Remember to turn down the pressure cooker when it gets mad.

Then cook up a couple of pounds of ground beef.  I add a little garlic powder, sometimes onion, sometimes not.  Usually with a little Great American Steak seasoning.   Make sure it's well browned.

 Let it drain on brown paper or paper towels.

I love brown paper and keep a lot of it handy.   Better and cheaper than paper towels for jobs like this.   Or,  you could save grocery store brown bags like my Mom did.  I worry about critters getting into my house like that, though.   Eeeuuuuw!

Now for the taco shells.  Pre-made taco shells are nasty. 
I like to pour about an inch of Tequila in a glass first. Then...
Get about three inches of peanut oil shimmering hot, using a heavy sauce pan.  Make sure the pot handle is well out of the way.  Take pincher tongs and grasp the corn tortilla and slowly dip the whole thing into the way-hot oil.  Continuing to hold on, and pull the edge toward you to fold it in the middle.  Keep holding for a minute!  Then you can turn loose.  Then flip it over for a few more seconds.  Then you can take it out.

This takes a little ....practice.  You'll have to figure out how you like your tacos, crispy or slightly soft or chewy.  I make mine slightly soft and then they crisp up some when they are in the oven waiting for dinner.  

Now you can stuff the cooked beef into the shells.  Later, you'll need chopped iceburg lettuce, chopped tomato, grated monterrey jack cheese and of course, salsa to eat with the tacos
Your beans are ready now!   Be sure to run cold water over the pressure cooker until it stops hissing completely and gasps a death rattle.  Then you can open it up safely.
This is the reddish brown color you should be looking for.  NOW I add about a half dollar size pile of kosher salt.

Oh yeah.  We luuuuv tacos!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Home-made Beauty Cream

I started making this for myself many years ago, before we all knew to "exfoliate".  It just seemed to make sense to me to buff up my face a little and get the old, dry skin off.  So.... 
  Sometimes I use cold cream, and in the wintertime I like "gel" baby oil, it keeps my face from drying out.  Just get a container and mix the cream and baking soda equal parts.  It won't rough your skin up too much, and it won't clog up the drain.  But your skin will be a smooth and soft as a sweet baby's bottom.  The store-label cleanser was about $3.50 and the baking soda a few cents.  Absolutely as good as products much more expensive.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Making "Crack" Brownies

Here is how I make brownies.  One of my son calls them "Crack" Brownies.  Funny, huh?   It all started when I read Katherine Hepburn's recipe in some magazine about 30 some-odd years ago.  Once you have that down, you just take it from there.
In a bowl, throw in a large chunk of butter.  It really doesn't matter how much, just as long as it's a lot.  2 sticks, say.  Then you put in what looks to be the same amount of chocolate.  By that I mean a large bar of dark or whatever you have on hand.  Throw it in the microwave and melt the chocolate bar and butter and stir it up.  Then you throw in a big bunch of cocoa, like 3 big spoonfuls.
Then add a nickel size pile of salt an a big glug of vanilla.
Stir that up and then start adding sugar.  Add sugar till it won't get greasy any more, like this.

Now add eggs, usually 3 is enough to make it thickly liquid, then add just enough self- rising flour to make it stop looking grainy, less than a cup.

I didn't put parchment paper under this batter and I should have.  Bake at 350 for 30 minutes.  I like pecans on top but whatever.  Cut and take out of the pan when they are not hot but not cold.  That's it!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Shady's Digging Spot

When we built our house, I knew we would have Shady for a while.  Shady is my Dad's dog and when he moved to the Assisted Living Home, we took her on.

Shady loves to dig.   When she was younger, no amount of fussing by my Mother or scolding by my Dad would stop her.   So we made her a place to dig.  Just a space filled with soft sand.  I wet it when it is hot outside so she can make a cool spot.
She loves it!!
My friend and landscape designer suggested this, and she said many people bury a kiddie pool in their yard to hold the sand.  Makes much more sense than scolding a sweet old dog.  Especially Shady.

Horse Pills, result.

"Q" loved them.  Soooooo happy.  Was even happy to eat a part of a pill that just had molasses on it.  
Duh.   Cue Julie Andrews...

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Horse Pills

My husband, who shall be known as LB for Left Brain, in shameless imitation of that that charming southern storyteller woman, was coming home from doctoring his horse all covered with horse pi-tooey. We decided something had to be done. My horse (RIP, Salty) would have stood on his head for a oat and honey granola bar. Or a BBQ potato chip.  His buddy, LB's horse also loves them. So we devised this.
Molasses was stickier than the honey. We'll see if "Q" likes it. I think I'd like Bactrim better that way myself.

A happy outcome.

When it was cold and windy and I was planning my landscape for our new home, I got a lot of interesting- sounding seeds from eBay and internet seed sources. I sprouted a bunch of them in plastic bags in damp paper towels, planted many seedlings, and several actually made it.

This was one. I hadn't kept meticulous records (shocked!) and didn't remember what I had planted, but I knew it was something and not a weed. Black-Eyed Susan vine, in a lovely shade of peach. I hope Susan comes back. That's why I love perennials, they are friends who come back every year for a visit. Thank you.